‘Just Doom It‘
Social justice warrior and supreme doofus Colin Kaepernick is back in the headlines courtesy of sportswear juggernaut Nike. The footwear giant has royally vexed athletes, military vets, and patriotic hypebeasts across the board by including the insurgent jock in a risky new ad campaign. A brilliant move or a bloody big blunder? We think both.
To coincide with the 30th anniversary of its enduring ‘Just Do It’ campaign, and just days before the kickoff of football (beer guzzling) season in the US, Nike has launched an ad series that celebrates the inspirational movers and shakers of the global sports scene. Tennis whiz Serena Williams was first up, with a powerful portrait of her wearing a controversial catsuit. A cheeky caption read: ‘You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers’ — as part of her rebuff for being sartorially censured at the French Open by the super-sensitive authorities there.
Now, ex-NFL player and afro puff maverick Colin Kaepernick (above) is front and center in the very viral promo. There’s a portrait of him, lensed in black and white (below – critics online are comparing the pic to the images of 9/11 hijacker Hani Hanjour and Iran’s ex-strongman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) with this statement:‘Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.’
Kaepernick, who once played for the San Francisco 49ers and is now radioactive, has ruffled political and cultural feathers by refusing to stand during America’s national anthem. Doubling down on the lightning rod issue, he says he is protesting the violence perpetrated against people of color and wants to expose America’s entrenched racial bigotry. He explained it like this: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
A mega-backlash to Kaepernick’s protest is once again underway. President Trump called Kaepernick (and colleagues who copied his tactics) “sons of bitches” back when the fracas erupted in 2016. The thick-headed, super politicized stunt resulted in Kaepernick’s expulsion from the team and alienation across the entire league. The prattling baller, who was made ‘Citizen of the Year’ at GQ (LOL), continues to signal virtue wherever possible. Amnesty International gave him the ‘Ambassador of Conscience’ medal, and he was even shortlisted for TIME’s ‘Person of the Year.’ He is even suing the NFL for snubbing him.
In the wake of Nike’s daredevilish ad, droves of Twitter users started the anti-Nike hashtags #BoycottNike and #JustBurnIt, posting vids of blazing shoes, scorched swooshes and pee-drenched Air Max and Jordan kicks. This political theater and ‘activist advertising’ pummelled Nike’s stock price (it traded down almost -3.4% by day’s end) and has hurt the global brand’s stellar rep among die-hard athletes, sneaker freakers and fervid flag-wavers — especially military grunts and conservatives. Now a national lobbying group for police departments with over 260,000 members is calling for a boycott of Nike merch.
Even though Kaepernick was a mediocre backup quarterback, he is a major goofball for embracing identity politics and taking a desperate stab at social relevance. He basically puts the ‘ass’ in ascot by totally mucking up his career (he once commanded a $120 mil comp package!) and crusading for social justice by utilizing (exploiting) the NFL’s highly visible stage. Selfish stuff, to be sure. Nike, too, is treading on thin ice here. Brand managers at HQ should look to Benetton’s ‘Migrants’ ads (below), which drew global outrage for using photos of real refugees, and tarnished the label’s ‘brand equity’ for linking geopolitics to luxury fashion. DICK‘S Sporting Goods is another example of a speedy way to ‘Just Doom It’ by alienating constituents and getting needlessly involved in America’s cutthroat culture wars.
Anyway, Serena Williams heaped praise on Kaepernick, saying: “I think every athlete, every human, and definitely every African American should be completely grateful and honored at how Colin and Eric (Reid) are doing so much more for the greater good. They really use their platform in ways that are unfathomable.” Former CIA director-cum-MSNBC talking head, John Brennan, tweeted, “Well done, Colin, well done.” Barack Obama defended the blacklisted footballer, saying “he has every right to address social issues in America.” And in a rather non-incendiary Q&A via the Daily Caller, President Trump said the ad sends “a terrible message…but in another way, it is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn’t do, but I personally am on a different side of it.”
But don’t expect the Kaepernick x NIKE collab to produce any killer kicks — that would just incite more animus and obviously fan more flames ?. Nike will report earnings later this month, which we predict will be positive (the brand has generated $45+ million in media exposure in less than 24 hours. But weighed against a one day loss of -$4 billion in market cap, we are betting that Nike’s PR and investor relations depts are stressing hard). Even though Kaepernick is a massive dope, VIVISXN will be buying the stock on every dip. We believe in the ‘short term pain, long term gain’ story here and agree with marketing guru Scott Galloway that the ad is a sort of “gangster genius brand move.” The best bit is watching NIKE trick all the progressives into buying umpteen pairs of shoes that were stitched together in dodgy Third World sweatshops for $1.15 an hour and feel ‘virtuous’ about it. Keep it up, Colin Kaepernick! Click here and here for our favorite kicks. And read this if you wanna be in the know about ‘police brutality.’
Images via Colin Kaepernick + NIKE + Donald Trump + Serena Williams + Bloomberg + Benetton
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